How weight gain could happen and one possible solution

photo: RelaxingMusic via Flickr

It all starts with sleep deprivation, not uncommon these days…

1. Sleep deprivation makes your fat cells hungry.  In this study, hormones related to fat cell metabolism were measured when subjects got a good night’s sleep and when they were sleep deprived.  Sleep deprived fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, and released less of the hunger suppressing hormone leptin.  Meaning: getting a good night’s sleep can help you control your appetite.

But if you sleep poorly and wake up with no time or interest in breakfast….

2. Skipping breakfast makes high fat, high calorie food more appealing later in the day.  A study using MRI brain scans showed that, when people skipped breakfast, pictures of high calorie high fat foods triggered strong brain signal reactions compared to when subjects ate breakfast before the MRI scans.  Meaning: eating breakfast stifles appetite later in the day, helping you to resist overeating.

Leading to…

3.  Overeating, which causes brain insulin to malfunction.  In short, brain cells become unresponsive to insulin, leading to changes in liver and fat cell metabolism that raise blood lipids and glucose.  Leading to weight gain.  Which causes sleep apnea and sleep disturbance for some people.

Could overeating affect the brain in ways that cause sleep disturbance?  Or could sleep disturbance be caused by overeating late in the evening?  Have you ever had trouble sleeping after a big dinner, like Thanksgiving? …

Yale University wants to help.  The StickK program is intended to help people set goals and stick to them.  Here’s how it works: you establish a goal, such as weight loss of so many pounds by a certain date.  You also set a consequence for what happens if you don’t meet your goal.  This is meant to be an incentive.  And it involves money.  The StickK website files your credit card information, and if your goal isn’t met, your consequence of choice — say a donation of $20 to an organization you don’t even like — is made.  According to behavioral research, this type of contract incentive program can significantly raise your chances for success.  Of course, a program like this is only likely to appeal to certain people, so success statistics are a bit biased.  Nevertheless, if you’re one of those people, this might be just the thing.  Weight control isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition.

But if you’d rather not sign up with StickK, you could always try getting enough sleep and eating breakfast.

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